Being Responsible for Maintaining Relationships as Expats

I wrote previously about what to do with your stuff when you leave the country long term (longterm travel, digital nomad, or expat). What about the relationships you leave behind?

Moving countries means you’re choosing a different life path to many of your family and long term friends. Maybe that means you were always a bit different; maybe it just means you’re about to go down a path they could never fully understand.

And that puts pressures on those relationships. Especially if you left, and everyone else stayed behind, you will likely find over time that the burden of maintaining those relationships rests on you. While your friends are bumping into each other in the supermarket, and your family are connecting for the Holidays, you’re staring at Icelandic waterfalls or surfing the breaks off Lombok.

That can hurt. Here’s something I’ve learned that will help.

You Are 100% Responsible for all of your Relationships

This is something I’ve learned in my personal development work over many years: I am 100% responsible for every one of my relationships.

Most of us assume that relationships are 50-50, which just sets us up for disappointment. I’ve found it much better to treat them as 100%-100%.

So yes, the other person is also 100% responsible for the relationship. But I can’t control other people, just myself.

So I take 100% responsibility- if there’s anything I don’t like, then I’m 100% responsible for addressing that and either improving it … or letting things go.

If the relationship isn’t worth investing in, then I don’t invest in it. No guilt or anything – the other party has the same opportunity.

And if Family Vehemently Disagree with my Travel Life?

Sadly, thiscan happen, where family (or even friends) cut you out of their lives when you move, no matter how hard you try to maintain or repair the relationship.

Something I read recently that I’ve found applies in so many relationships:

“Never play chess with a pigeon. It will knock over the pieces, shit on the board, and then strut around like it beat you.”

You’re playing a different game of life to some of your family. Don’t expect them to understand, appreciate that you perhaps don’t understand their worldview, and certainly don’t let their criticism affect you personally.

Do you think that might help your relationships … or your guilt?

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